It’s Thursday, time for Exploring Geography! Did you know you can walk across the Mississippi River? I didn’t, until I read Terri’s post!
You may have heard the Mississippi River called "The Mighty Mississippi" or have seen this magnificent river at many stops along its route. It’s one of the longest rivers in the world following behind the Nile, the Amazon, and the Yangtze Rivers. But, despite it’s mightiness, the Mississippi River has very humble beginnings.
Welcome to Itasca State Park located in northern Minnesota. It’s Minnesota’s oldest state park and a very popular tourist destination due to it’s wealth of history and nature. Perhaps the most popular spot in the park is the headwaters of the Mississippi River.
(Headwaters of the Mississippi River)
You may not recognize the Mississippi River by this picture. It’s small, peaceful, and very calm. It looks like a small creek, not at all what you imagine when you say Mississippi River. You can cross the river here without a boat or a bridge; you can walk straight across.
The headwaters empty into Lake Itasca through a small rock dam (44-feet long), which you can cross by foot. The rocks are slippery, but the water is calm. I’m always proud to tell people that I have walked across the Mississippi River!
(Mississippi River Headwaters)
The beginning of the Mississippi is wide in parts, but narrow in other parts. It flows directly into Lake Itasca and back out again. But, everywhere you look, it’s calm and shallow, not a bit mighty.
- The widest part of the Mississippi River is at Lake Winnibigoshish near Bena, Minnesota where it is wider than 11 miles.
- At Lake Itasca, the water flows at about 6 cubic feet per second. At New Orleans, the water flows at 600,000 cubic feet per second. (There are approximately 7.489 gallons of water in a cubic foot.)
- The Mississippi River is home to at least 260 species of fish!
- 326 species of birds use the Mississippi River as it migratory path.
- Itasca State Park was designated on April 20, 1891, but it wasn’t until the 1930’s that the land was preserved due to a lot of help from the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Thank you for joining me on my trip to the Itasca State Park and the headwaters of the Mississippi River! For more information on Itasca State Park, you can visit the Minnesota DNR site
Are you interested in guest posting about a place you love for this series? Email mamasmilesblog at gmail dot com.
MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.